The annual meeting of the African Union also serves as the handover of the rotating Chair of the African Union. Outgoing Chair, President Macky Sall of Senegal, passed the baton onto the President of the Union of Comoros, Azali Assoumani, as the new Chairperson of the African Union for the year 2023. The official handover took place during the opening ceremony of the AU on Saturday 18 February. Assoumani was elected by his peers to manage the direction of the organisation for the next year.
Chairperson of the African Union Commission, H.E Moussa Faki Mahamat, opened his address to the assembly by paying tribute to President Macky Sall of Senegal for his achievements during his mandate as Chair of the Union.
Faki stated that the 36th AU Summit is held at a time of heightened geo-political conflicts and uncertainty stating “Over the past three years, global economic growth has lost momentum and inflation is rising higher rates…. Faced with such a situation, it is imperative that our Member States decide, with determination, in their economic and development choices. The activation of various mechanisms of internal resilience, intra-African solidarity, rapid implementation of African financial institutions, all supported by virtuous governance seems in my view to be the way to salvation”.
The Chairman of the AU Commission stressed the need for increased pan Africanism from Member States and the “need to accelerate the economic integration project by operationalizing the AfCFTA, which is the theme chosen by the AU for the year 2023”, according to the African Union press release.
He urged Member States to avoid “the paradigm in which we see, arms folded, the house of the neighbour burned…This paradigm is a form of collective resignation of conscience that has nothing to do with our culture and even less with our civilization, both of which are based on mutual aid.…Where is our Pan-Africanism? Where is our solidarity? Where is our brotherhood…?”.
The host country’s Prime Minister, Abiy Ahmed Ali, announced that Ethiopia is proud to leverage its exportation of goods to other countries to mitigate the problems of hunger on the continent. Prime Minister Abiy also acknowledged that because Africa is now a key player on the international scene, it should be recognised as such with at least one permanent seat on the UN General Assembly Security Council.
UN Secretary General, H.E. Antonio Guterres, praised “In particular, I’m pleased to see your strong focus on job-creation and the enormous potential of the African Continental Free Trade Area”. And of how it represents a transformative pathway to job-creation and new sources of prosperity for Africans, especially for the youth. “The United Nations is proud to be your partner and to work together…The ties between the African Union and the United Nations have never been stronger”.